Back in the late 1500's, a Augustinian monk created an Advent celebration designed to introduce Christianity to the New World, primarily in Latin America. Los Posadas is observed December 16-23, with people going to a different home each night. People often walk to the homes, carrying lighted candles and singing as they process. Sometimes, a person playing Mary leads the procession, and children often dress as shepherds and the Wise Men. When the pilgrimage reaches the home, there is a service which enacts the Holy Family seeking shelter. Then, folks go into the house for a party, including a piñata for the children.
The celebration is part of the Hispanic Christian tradition, preparing for and anticipating the birth of Jesus, remembering the pregnancy of Mary, remembering the difficulties the family had in finding shelter, and emphasizing (by going to eight different homes) that Jesus is coming again, and we should be ready to welcome him into our homes and hearts. The observance ends with a special Christmas Eve Los Posadas, when Joseph and Mary (usually accompanied by children and youth) stand outside the doors of the sanctuary seeking shelter within the church.
Back in the days of ancient Israel, people would journey to God's House (the Temple), and as they went they would sing songs. These Songs of Ascents, were an important part of the faith tradition, and helped the people to remember the reason for their pilgrimage.
You will notice that in Psalm 122, one of these songs, the pilgrims remind themselves that they are called to pray for peace - peace for Jerusalem. But they are also to pray for others, as well as seeking to do good for others. Perhaps in this season of Advent, we might find ways to welcome others into our homes and hearts, as willingly as we seek to welcome the Prince of Peace.
As we journey in this season, to the malls and to our neighbors, to the church and to the school, help us to pray for peace and for the good of everyone we meet. Amen.
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